Kelley Armstrong,
Women of the Otherworld
#1: Bitten

(Viking, 2001; Plume, 2004)

There aren't many werewolves in Elena Michaels' world. And Elena, a former Toronto student whose lycanthropic curse was a poorly considered show of affection from an over-eager boyfriend, is the only female in the Pack.

That's bound to make her life difficult, particularly when she wants nothing to do with the Pack, her werewolf brethren or the rigid Pack laws. Her new boyfriend, a nice Toronto architect who never sprouts fangs and fur (and doesn't know Elena does, either), would never understand that side of her life. Still, when Pack leader Jeremy Danvers calls for her aid, she flies to a remote village in New York to do what she can.

People are turning up dead, and the local community has fingered wild dogs as the culprit. But the Pack knows there are no wild dogs in the vicinity, and Pack members are well-schooled in avoiding human contact -- and killing humans without cause is strictly forbidden. So it must be a rogue who's responsible, but what would a rogue be doing in Pack territory? In fact, why are so many rogues turning up in that same small town?

In a genre dominated by vampires, Bitten -- the first in Kelley Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld series -- is a refreshing change. Her werewolf lore is thoroughly detailed, dispelling some common "myths" such as the full moon cycle, the deadliness of silver and the werewolf's legendary immunity to ordinary weapons.

The group dynamics of the Pack are handled with an expert touch; one might think Armstrong has spent some time in wolf packs, to be able to weave together aspects of two disparate societies so well. Elena herself is a strong female character, torn between two worlds. She's not always entirely pleasant to be around, exhibiting some of the lupine traits of aggressiveness and a quick temper, but it only serves to make her more realistic. Clay, the werewolf who turned her, also has a host of likable and unlikable qualities.

This is the first book in a series that, I'm told, provides several strong female protagonists, including Elena in at least two more books, plus a couple of witches and a ghost. I am eager to see if Armstrong can maintain this level of quality throughout.

Note: There are some passages of explicit sexuality that make Bitten inappropriate for younger teen readers.

by Tom Knapp
3 March 2007

Buy it from